Sen. Raffy Tulfo warned that he will defer deliberations on the proposed 2024 budget of the DENR due to the supposed questionable windmill farms in a conservation area in Rizal province.
According to Tulfo, under Proclamation 1636 series of 1977, Masungi Georeserve in the rainforests of Baras, Rizal was declared a wildlife sanctuary.
“Bakit po pinayagan ang isang wind farm na magtayo dun po sa Masungi conservation area na meron pong ancestral domain issue. The Vena Energy is what I'm talking about that was given permit by PAMB (Protected Area Management Board) to put up their structures,” Tulfo asked.
Tulfo said based on DENR administrative order No. 33 dated May 10, 1993, Masungi was declared a strict nature reserve and wildlife sanctuary and there was no new administrative superseding the said order.
But according Sen. Cynthia Villar, budget sponsor of the DENR, PAMB did not issue a permit for the energy company to operate in the area but only to study the potential of wind energy.
“Wala pa daw permit iyan, parang mag-i-study pa lang kung ano yung potential ng wind energy, they cannot operate yet. Parang yung PAMB ang ibinigay lang is a study of the potential of the wind energy in Masungi,” Villar said.
Tulfo pointed out that there are already structures in the conservation area, but Villar explained that the wind mills are in Pililia, Rizal and not in the legislated protected area.
“Yung inilagay daw po doon hindi part ng Masungi (Georeserve), sa Pililia daw po yun. It's not part of the legislated protected area,” Villar explained.
Tulfo said PAMB used section 25 of RA 11038 to declare a protected area into a multi-use area, which is according to him, is contrary to the spirit of the law which is to protect the environment.
Villar explained that from the point of view of the DENR, in every protected area there is a place for strict implementation of the law or the strict protection zone, and there are also areas in the protected area called multi-use zones.
Tulfo asked for the list of DENR-PAMB board members who allowed a private company to explore the wind energy in that area in Rizal.
Villar promised to submit to the office of Sen. Tulfo the documents on the actions of PAMB in the area.
“We just want to reassure you that it is not yet a permit to operate the windmill, it’s just a study to find out the potential of the wind farm in the legislated protected area,” Villar said.
Tulfo also asked for a Certification Precondition (CP) signed by the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) allowing exploration in the Masungi conservation area.
“If you cannot show me CP, again I will defer the budget of the DENR in favor of the IPs,” Tulfo said.